Golf Buzz

Dustin Johnson
PGA Tour via YouTube
Dustin Johnson opened the Farmers Insurance Open with three straight pars, then sank a 159-yard shot for an eagle on his fourth hole.
After sitting out for the last six months to deal with what he called "personal challenges," Dustin Johnson returned to the PGA Tour today. So, how's his golf game?
Pretty darn good, judging by his approach shot into the par-4 fourth hole on the South Course at Torrey Pines. Johnson opened with three straight pars, then hit his drive to within 159 yards of the flag on the 462-yard par 4. He then stepped up, took a nice, smooth swing and sent his ball flying directly at the pin.
It hit the green, bounced a couple times and made a beeline right into the hole – a thing of beauty, and no doubt the shot of the day in the Farmers Insurance Open. Johnson bogeyed his next two holes to fall back to even par but, even so, it's great to see DJ and his gorgeous swing back out on tour.
Here's the video of his "welcome back" eagle: 
Lydia Ko and Lorde
Lydia Ko and her new Twitter buddy Lorde have a lot in common.
Now that Lydia Ko has become the youngest-ever player, male or female, to assume the No. 1 spot in golf's world rankings, she's finding herself flying in a higher orbit.
Exhibit A: After reaching the top spot, Ko said Wednesday, she received a tweet from pop singer Lorde – who has a No. 1 ranking her own.
"I mean, she was Billboard Chart No. 1 with her song 'Royals.' And I'm a huge fan of her music and she sent me a tweet and she's like, congratulations, very proud," Ko said in her press conference before the LPGA Tour's Pure Silk Bahamas Classic. "And I was like, oh, my God, I thought, oh, my God, because I'm a huge fan for her and that's somebody and somebody of that status to give me a tweet like that, that was pretty awesome."
No doubt part of Lorde's interest in Ko stems from the fact that both are teenage superstars – Lorde turned 18 in November, while Ko will be 18 in April. Both, of course, are from New Zealand. And where Ko won two big 2014 honors – Rookie of the Year and leading money winner – Lorde won two 2014 Grammys, for Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance.
Ko also noted that "House of Lies" star Don Cheadle – an avid golfer in his own right – also offered her a congratulatory tweet, retweeting a story about her ascendance to the No. 1 ranking.
When the moderator of Ko's interview wondered whether Cheadle was becoming her No. 1 fan, Ko joked that maybe he could become president of her fan club. 
Hey, why not? Cheadle does plenty of politicking as a cut-throat management consultant on "House of Lies." Maybe he could get Lorde to sign on as a vice president – or at least chair the Entertainment Committee.
TaylorMade NHRA Funny Car drag racer
Courtesy of Chad Head Racing
The Toyota Camry driven by Chad Head in the NHRA Winternationals will be festooned from bumper to bumper with TaylorMade logos and colors.
Torrey Pines is the PGA Tour venue closest to TaylorMade's headquarters in Carlsbad, California, and if you take a look around at the Farmers Insurance Open this week, you're bound to see a lot of TaylorMade clubs.
But that's not the only sporting event where the company will have a prominent presence this weekend. 
To promote its new AeroBurner driver, TaylorMade is sponsoring one of the Funny Cars in this weekend's NHRA season opener, the Circle K Winternationals in fairly-nearby Pomona.
The Toyota Camry driven by Chad Head will be festooned from bumper to bumper with TaylorMade logos and colors because, the company says, the AeroBurner driver, "like the sport of NHRA, delivers straight speed performance in the fastest, most aerodynamic driver in company history."
"We are excited about the opportunity to showcase the TaylorMade AeroBurner on our Toyota Funny Car and can't think of a better parallel between the AeroBurner product attributes and the sport of NHRA," said Head. "This is a great chance for TaylorMade to introduce AeroBurner to the NHRA fan base."
As part of the sponsorship, the Head Racing team will visit TaylorMade HQ to officially unveil the car design to the company's employees.
We are excited to be partnering with Head Racing as part of the release of the new AeroBurner driver," said Nick Robbie, director of marketing at TaylorMade Golf. "We want golfers to know that the AeroBurner driver delivers unparalleled speed that leads to substantial distance. The AeroBurner Funny Car will be a thundering example that reinforces Made of Speed."
This isn't the first time that TaylorMade has ventured outside of golf with a prominent sponsorship. In recent years, baseball fans at San Diego's Petco Park have seen one of the foul poles decked out like a huge TaylorMade driver.
Richard Green albatross
PGA Tour of Australasia via YouTube
Richard Green retrieved his ball Wednesday after it took one of the most unlikely paths ever from tee to the bottom of the cup.

Only a handful of players have ever made a hole-in-one on a par-4 hole, but the number grew by one on Wednesday. We can safely say, however, that the way Richard Green recorded his unusual ace is absolutely one of a kind.

Green, a lefthander from Australia who owns three European Tour victories, teed it up on the par-4 15th hole at Thirteenth Beach Golf Links in the pro-am ahead of the Oates Victorian Open, the first event of the 2015 PGA Tour of Australasia. He took a big swing – and pushed his ball off to the left.

The ball took one hard bounce in the fairway, and jumped into a bunker on the left-hand side of the fairway up by the green. Then, somehow, it ricocheted out – and speeded directly for the flag. A few hops and a little roll later, it smashed into the flagstick and dropped into the cup.

Unbelievable – except that it was caught on camera.

MORE ALBATROSSES: Joost Luiten in S. Africa | 17-year-old at Pebble Beach | This guy has three 

"I thought I would hit a driver and see what happens, I just pushed it a little bit," he told the PGA of Australasia website. "It was a good shot, but I knew it was going in the bunker so I was completely oblivious to the fact that it had made its way to the hole somehow."

This albatross is Green's first, and he said it surpasses his other holes-in-one on his list of career achievements.

"They [his previous aces] were fantastic moments but an albatross, I have never come close," he said. "They are something that may never happen to someone in their career as a professional. So to have one in even in a pro-am was very special."

Take a look – you have to see it to believe it.

Bubba Watson
USA Today Images
Bubba Watson's ability to drive the ball great distances overshadows his excellent short-game skills.

Bubba Watson is a master of the driver -- he's averaging over 300 yards from the tee this season -- and yet he only reaches 70 percent of his greens in regulation. That's barely inside the top 100 -- but at the same time, he's in the top 10 in strokes gained.

Why? Because Watson's short game is underrated. And improving your short game could save you strokes in the long run.

TOP TIPS: Developing feel in your short game 

That's the opinion of Kathy Gildersleeve-Jensen, 2014 PGA Teacher of the Year and director of teaching and coaching at Indian Canyon Golf Course in Spokane, Wash. Gildersleeve-Jensen specializes in the short game -- she has an e-book called "How to Play Golf ... Inside 50 Yards" on -- and offers this advice.

"It is the one area that we all can improve on, and with practice, become quite good at," Gildersleeve-Jensen said. "Not all of us can hit it far but a good short game is achievable for players of all skill levels and ages."

Gildersleeve-Jensen said there are two key concepts to understand about where your club should be at impact. The secrets to good chipping are correct point of entry and square impact. 

Leading edge of the clubface

"The leading edge should pinch very close between the golf ball and the blades of grass that the ball sits upon. Knowing where your 'point of entry' is is vastly important. The point of entry is a repeated area as to where the club's leading edge touches the grass or lie of the ground.

"Everyone is different, so knowing their own personal point of entry is crucial. Check out where that is, then check out where your body weight is distributed. Most likely your high percentage impact body weight is located near your point of entry.

"If you lean your weight back, your point of entry has a tendency to hit behind the ball (chunky and hard to finish, then we compensate and manipulate which is not consistent). If your weight is leaning more towards the target, then it is easier to pinch the ball and follow through.

"To obtain the leading edge to pinch, there is a slight forward press with the hands at impact. Time and time again, I see a collapse or the hands stop and the clubface keeps going, which allows for chunk shots or shots that quit."

Squareness of clubface at impact

"Squareness of clubface at impact is for direction. It doesn't really matter how you do it, but it needs to be square -- somehow, some way -- when the clubface meets the golf ball. Some players are more technical than others to obtain this objective."

"Here's a pre-shot routine idea. Lean slightly towards your target with your body weight. Start with a slightly forward press of the hands but keep the clubface square to the line of target. This may require a little flex in the wrist area and not so rigid. Understanding where your point of entry to the golf ball is and the ground will determine your own personal ball placement at address."

IMPROVE YOUR GAME: Find a PGA Professional near you

Gildersleeve-Jensen offers two drills to help you practice your chipping skills -- and lower your score. You don't even have to be on the range to work on these.

1. Without a golf club, take a few balls in your hand and physically toss them close to your target. How far of a backswing did you take? How far of a follow through did you make? How long did you hold your finish? Where was your weight when you finished the toss, and were you balanced at the end?

Did you notice the exact moment when you actually let go of the ball or was your attention on the target? Self-analysis creates awareness. It also helps maintain a more natural motion than a robotic one. You'll find that the backswing tends to be shorter than the follow through.

2. Turn the golf club upside down in your hands and hold onto the shaft near the club head end. Now, point the grip end at an area where you want the ball to land and release, not at the target. Having an awareness of an exact aiming point makes the finish more important than the actual hit.




February 2, 2015 - 6:09pm
mark.aumann's picture
John D'Amico
Physical therapist John D'Amico has a volunteer demonstrate the correct position for a hip stretch.

For most older golfers, doing a few knee bends and shoulder swings on the first tee is about the extent of their warm-up routine. And that's fine for the short term.

But John D'Amico, a Naples, Fla.-based physical therapist believes in order to keep playing long after retirement, senior golfers need to work harder to maintain what strength, stamina and power you have left -- because after a certain age, it's almost impossible to make great gains in physical fitness.

If you don't have it by then, D'Amico said, you won't be able to regain it.

SENIOR GOLFERS: Three modifications you can make to your game

"Fitness for life after 50 isn't about making great gains," said D'Amico, who owns Golf Fitness Edge and presented his findings as part of the PGA Merchandise Show last month. "In the long run, it's about slowing down loss. It's kind of like building a retirement account for your body that you can draw from.

"This is really important after age 70, because we lose the ability to produce greater amounts of power and strength -- two things that are critical to the golf game."

So how do you maintain your physical fitness later in life? D'Amico said there are five simple exercises anyone can do at home -- without expensive equipment -- that will go a long way to helping your flexibility, balance, strength and power.

In order, they are:

  1. Seated Thoracic Posture Restoration
  2. Breathing Mechanics Restoration
  3. Single Knee to Chest Hip Stretch
  4. Hip Hinge Goblet Squat
  5. Standing Cross Body Crawl Pattern

Don't let the names fool you into thinking these exercises are complicated, D'Amico said. On the contrary, they mimic movements you learned to do early in your life. 

Here's a description of each exercise, with illustrations.

Seated Thoracic Posture Restoration

1. Sit tall in a high-back dining room chair
2. Place a small bath towel rolled length ways at the level of the bottom of your shoulder blade
3. Gently push your mid back into the towel without pain for two minutes
4. Move the towel up your shoulder blades, holding each for two minutes gently without pain. The last towel position will be at the top of the shoulder blade
5. Perform this exercise 1-2 times a day
6. Watch TV or on converse with someone across the room to promote proper posture. Do not read, use phone, tablet or computer while doing this exercise, as this will negatively influence your posture

TIPS FROM THE TIPS: Don't be afraid to Tee It Forward

Breathing Mechanics Restoration

1. While sitting or standing straight in an upright torso posture, hands on lower ribs
2. Place hands on outside of lower ribs
3. Relax your body and take a normal breath
4. Feel your hands push away from your body as you breathe in
5. Feel your hands pull in as you breathe out
6. Five repetitions, five times per day

Single Knee to Chest Hip Stretch

1. Resting on a firm surface or bed (pillow optional) gently brace your stomach
2. Use a bed sheet to pull your thigh towards (not to!) your chest. Do not move past a point that the pelvis begins to rock on the low back. You may notice this as the point your straight leg begins to lift up
3. The total limit of this exercise is 120 degrees. This point may take months to attain
4. Perform for 90 seconds to two minutes each leg, one to two times per day
5. Perform gently without any pain

Hip Hinge Goblet Squat

1. Stand tall
2. Activate (gently brace) your stomach muscles
3. Arms Across your chest with 5-pound dumbbell or two-liter soda bottles in double-bagged plastic grocery bags at your chest
4. Maintain your head, spine and pelvic posture, as if you had a board nailed from the back of your head to your tailbone
5. Push your tailbone back and down as you begin to hinge hips, knees and ankles simultaneously Maintain the bottom of the dumbbell or seltzer bottle against your body throughout the exercise
6. Depth of squat is controlled by your ability to maintain your head, spine and pelvic posture
7. When learning this exercise it is best to perform five reps, four times per day
8. After learning this exercise and as a warm up for golf perform sets sets of 10 repetitions

Standing Cross Body Crawl Pattern

1. Standing with hands at shoulder level, lift one hand and the opposite foot six inches.
2. Return to original position
3. Repeat with other hand and foot
4. If balance is an issue you may stand at countertop and if necessary keep one hand at a time on counter
5. Perform this exercise 20 repetitions, five times per day
6. Try to perform this exercise rhythmically, and maintain your balance for safety


The result of doing these exercises should improve all the things that control the physical part of your golf game, D'Amico said.

"In developing a better body and better mind, we can develop a better body-swing connection," he added.